Monday, October 28, 2013

Behind the ‘Mens’

By Maria Carmela Sison

She was waiting for her turn in the admissions office for the interview. She had to pick a non-quota course to enter the university. Geodetic engineering was her first choice but had to pick another course which would not cost her a lot of money since her family was having financial difficulties. The person in front of her suggested BA Film and Audio-Visual Communication, claiming one can pass the subject by watching movies. But she remembered, “Wala nga akong pang-tuition. Saan pa ko kukuha ng pang-sine (I don’t even have the money for my tuition, where will I get the money to watch movies)?” She crossed it out and was left with two choices: BA English and BA Malikhaing Pagsulat (Creative Witing) sa Filipino. Her time was running out. It was already her turn to go inside the admissions office. She tossed a coin and was left with Malikhang Pagsulat. This was how the journey of Bebang Siy as a writer began.

Beverly Wico Siy, or known as Bebang Siy was born on December 10, 1979 in Quirino, Manila. She was the eldest of the five daughters of Roberto Siy and Resurreccion Wico. Her family is part of the Chinese-Filipino community in Manila. After her parents separated, Bebang and her sisters experienced living from one place to another. They first lived with their mother, and then were taken by their father. And after their father’s death, they stayed with their mother.

Dubbed as the female counterpart of Bob Ong, Bebang admitted that she never saw herself as a writer when she was young. Instead, she wanted to be a doctor. She wanted to take Psychology. Even without prior knowledge on the discipline, she planned to take it to follow her crush. As she entered University of the Philippines Diliman, her passion for writing started to blossom. After a significant experience or whenever she feels lonely, Bebang finds herself writing, especially in her blog.

Her remarkable book, “It’s A Mens World,” brought her to the limelight of Filipino literature. The book was composed of different anecdotes in Bebang’s life written in a light and funny manner. Reading the book will surely make you laugh yet it will teach you lessons in life. The book was originally a class requirement in a penalty course under Professor Vim Nadera, Jr. It was a compilation of her past works written in different periods of time. Her professor asked her to find a publisher. She chose Anvil Publishing Inc. and her book-length manuscript was published.

Living a rollercoaster life has helped Bebang in her writing. She cited one of her experiences in the book “Palalim Nang Palalim, Padilim Nang Padilim” which is set in a pawnshop vault. The setting rooted from her previous job as a clerk. Who would have thought that a writer has worked in a pawnshop before? These experiences have expanded her imagination and knowledge as a writer. Bebang also admits that she had to take different jobs to fulfill her role as a single mother to Sean Elijah or “EJ.”

Her humor and positive outlook in life have also helped her in writing, particularly in “It’s A Mens Word.” “‘Pag sinulat ko siya nang walang humor, baka bumaha na ng luha sa buong Pilipinas (If I wrote it without humor, maybe tears would flood the whole Philippines). Her tragic experiences in life were written in a light and comic manner. Whenever she reads her stories, Bebang confesses that she would probably feel anger if she would go back to her stories. Instead, her optimism has made her feel better about it. “It helps me with these experiences in a more constructive manner,” she says.

Aside from writing, Bebang currently spends her time as a Filipino professor in Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She is also attending to her forthcoming wedding with Ronald Verzo. She also enjoys being a speaker in different schools. It lets her expand her horizons and meet other people especially those who support Filipino literature. Her sequel of “It’s A Mens World” which is “It’s Raining Mens” will come out early next year.

Bebang never imagined her life not being a writer. She believes that books will always be in line with whatever she is doing. Even though she knows that there is not much money in books, it will always be what she wants. She admitted that she has reviewed her life at one point. And she realized that despite everything that happened to her, one thing has always remained: her love for writing. Ten years from now, she still sees herself as a writer. Her dream is to write a book on historical fiction or dark comedy.

Her imagination has played a key role in her writing. Bebang believes that anyone who can imagine has the capacity to write. “Ang imahinasyon mo ay walang katulad sa buong mundo (Your imagination is unique in the whole world). What aspiring writers need to do is write. Write whatever is in your mind. Ignore all the technicalities and focus on what your imagination can reach, she added. “Kahit sino ka pa, kahit ano ka pang uri ng manunulat, sulat lang nang sulat (Whoever you are and whatever kind of writer you are, just keep on writing).

Ang feature article na ito ay produkto ng panayam ni Carmela sa akin. Si Carmela ay isang Journalism student sa UP Diliman at isa ito sa requirements ng propesor niya. Naganap ang panayam sa Letran noong Oktubre 2013.

Maraming salamat, Carmela!

Ang copyright ng mga larawan ay kina Bebang Siy at Ronald Verzo.

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